Friday, December 19, 2008

Top 10 dud climate predictions

By Andrew Bolt

Global warming preachers have had a shocking 2008. So many of their predictions this year went splat. Here's their problem: they've been scaring us for so long that it's now possible to check if things are turning out as hot as they warned. And good news! I bring you Christmas cheer - the top 10 warming predictions to hit the wall this year. Read, so you can end 2008 with optimism, knowing this Christmas won't be the last for you, the planet or even the polar bears.


Tim Flannery, an expert in bones, has made a fortune from books and lectures warning that we face global warming doom. He scared us so well that we last year made him Australian of the Year. In March, Flannery said: "The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009." In fact, Adelaide's reservoirs are now 75 per cent full, just weeks from 2009.

In June last year, Flannery warned Brisbane's "water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months". In fact, 18 months later, its dams are 46 per cent full after Brisbane's wettest spring in 27 years.

In 2005, Flannery predicted Sydney's dams could be dry in just two years. In fact, three years later its dams are 63 per cent full, not least because June last year was its wettest since 1951.

In 2004, Flannery said global warming would cause such droughts that "there is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st century's first ghost metropolis". In fact, Perth now has the lowest water restrictions of any state capital, thanks to its desalination plant and dams that are 40 per cent full after the city's wettest November in 17 years.

Lesson: This truly is a land "of drought and flooding rains". Distrust a professional panic merchant who predicts the first but ignores the second.


PROFESSOR Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, of Queensland University, is Australia's most quoted reef expert. He's advised business, green and government groups, and won our rich Eureka Prize for scares about our reef. He's chaired a $20 million global warming study of the World Bank. In 1999, Hoegh-Guldberg warned that the Great Barrier Reef was under pressure from global warming, and much of it had turned white. In fact, he later admitted the reef had made a "surprising" recovery.

In 2006, he warned high temperatures meant "between 30 and 40 per cent of coral on Queensland's great Barrier Reef could die within a month". In fact, he later admitted this bleaching had "a minimal impact".

In 2007, he warned that temperature changes of the kind caused by global warming were again bleaching the reef. In fact, the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network last week said there had been no big damage to the reef caused by climate change in the four years since its last report, and veteran diver Ben Cropp said this week that in 50 years he'd seen none at all.

Lesson: Reefs adapt, like so much of nature. Learn again that scares make big headlines and bigger careers.


In April this year, the papers were full of warnings the Arctic ice could all melt. "We're actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time," claimed Dr David Barber, of Manitoba University, ignoring the many earlier times the Pole has been ice free. "It's hard to see how the system may bounce back (this year)," fretted Dr Ignatius Rigor, of Washington University's polar science centre. Tim Flannery also warned "this may be the Arctic's first ice-free year", and the ABC and Age got reporter Marian Wilkinson to go stare at the ice and wail: "Here you can see climate change happening before your eyes."

In fact, the Arctic's ice cover this year was almost 10 per cent above last year's great low, and has refrozen rapidly since. Meanwhile, sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere has been increasing. Been told either cool fact? Yet Barber is again in the news this month, predicting an ice-free Arctic now in six years. Did anyone ask him how he got his last prediction wrong?

Lesson: The media prefers hot scares to cool truths. And it rarely holds its pet scaremongers to account.


Al Gore sold his scary global warming film, An Inconvenient Truth, shown in almost every school in the country, with a poster of a terrible hurricane. Former US president Bill Clinton later gloated: "It is now generally recognised that while Al Gore and I were ridiculed, we were right about global warming. . . It's going to lead to more hurricanes." In fact, there is still no proof of a link between any warming and hurricanes. Australia is actually getting fewer cyclones, and last month researchers at Florida State University concluded that the 2007 and 2008 hurricane seasons had the least tropical activity in the Northern Hemisphere in 30 years.

Lesson: Beware of politicians riding the warming bandwagon.


Ross Garnaut, a professor of economics, is the guru behind the Rudd Government's global warming policies. He this year defended the ugly curved steel roof he'd planned at the rear of his city property, telling angry locals he was protecting himself from climate change: "Severe and more frequent hailstones will be a feature of this change," he said. In fact, even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admits "decreases in hail frequency are simulated for Melbourne. . ."

Lesson: Beware also of government advisers on that warming wagon.


A bad ski season three years ago - right after a great one - had The Age and other alarmists blaming global warming. The CSIRO, once our top science body, fanned the fear by claiming resorts such as Mt Hotham and Mt Buller could lose a quarter of their snow by 2020. In fact, this year was another boom one for skiing, with Mt Hotham and Mt Buller covered in snow five weeks before the season started.

What's more, a study this year in the Hydrological Sciences Journal checked six climate models, including one used by the CSIRO. It found they couldn't even predict the regional climate we'd had already: "Local model projections cannot be credible . . ." It also confirmed the finding of a study last year in the International Journal of Climatology that the 22 most cited global warming models could not "accurately explain the (global) climate from the recent past". As for predicting the future. . .

Lesson: The CSIRO's scary predictions are near worthless.


The CSIRO last year claimed Perth was "particularly vulnerable" and had a 90 per cent chance of getting less rain and higher temperatures. "There are not many other parts of the world where the IPCC has made a prediction that a drop in rainfall is highly likely," it said. In fact, Perth has just had its coldest and wettest November since 1991.

Lesson: As I said, don't trust the CSIRO's model or its warnings.


The seas will rise up to 100m by 2100, claims ABC Science Show host Robyn Williams. Six metres, suggests Al Gore. So let's take in "climate refugees" from low-lying Tuvalu, says federal Labor. And ban coastal development, says the Brumby Government. In fact, while the seas have slowly risen since the last ice age, before man got gassy, they've stopped rising for the last two, according to data from the Jason-1 satellite. "There is no evidence for accelerated sea-level rises," the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute declared last month.

Lesson: Trust the data, not the politicians.


The British Met Office is home to the Hadley Centre, one of the top centres of the man-made global warming faith. In April it predicted: "The coming summer is expected to be a 'typical British summer'. . ." In fact, in August it admitted: "(This) summer . . . has been one of the wettest on record across the UK." In September it predicted: "The coming winter (is) likely to be milder than average." In fact, winter has been so cold that London had its first October snow in 74 years -- and on the day Parliament voted to fight "global warming".

Lesson: If the Met can't predict the weather three months out, what can it know of the climate 100 years hence?


Speaking of the Met, it has so far predicted 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007 would be the world's hottest or second-hottest year on record, but nine of the past 10 years it predicted temperatures too high. In fact, the Met this month conceded 2008 would be the coldest year this century. That makes 1998 still the hottest year on record since the Medieval Warm Period some 1000 years ago. Indeed, temperatures have slowly fallen since around 2002. As Roger Pielke Sr, Professor Emeritus of Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Science, declared this month: "Global warming has stopped for the last few years."

Lesson: Something is wrong with warming models that predict warming in a cooling world, especially when we're each year pumping out even more greenhouse gases. Be sceptical.

Those, then, are the top 10 dud predictions of that hooting, screaming and screeching tribe of warming alarmists. Look and laugh. And dare to believe the world is bright and reason may yet triumph.


Big "refugee" influx forces Federal backdown on detention

The Rudd Government has been forced to open the $400 million detention centre on Christmas Island in an embarrassing admission it is struggling to cope with an influx of boat people. Immigration Minister Chris Evans has previously resisted pressure to open the centre despite a steadily increasing number of arrivals, saying the 800-bed facility had been "inherited" from the Howard Government and was not suitable for children and families.Government MP Michael Danby, the head of a parliamentary delegation that visited the centre this year, said it resembled a stalag and was a "grandiose" waste of public money. "It looks like an enormous white elephant," he said at the time.

But the Immigration Department will today announce the latest boatload of 37 suspected asylum seekers, intercepted 200 kilometres north-east of Darwin on Tuesday, will be housed in the new centre. The 37 men are expected to arrive at Christmas Island over the weekend. There are already 135 Afghan, Iranian and Sri Lankan asylum seekers on the island, but they live in a construction camp, the old detention centre at Phosphate Hill, or in the community.

Seven boats have been intercepted in the past three months, with 164 suspected asylum seekers caught trying to enter Australia this year, up from 148 last year. The Rudd Government has come under intense pressure over its border protection scheme, with the Opposition claiming the scrapping of temporary protection visas has made Australia a "soft target" for people smugglers.

The Age understands the Government was extremely reluctant to open the centre, because it sends a message it is losing the battle against people smugglers and validates the Howard Government's decision to build it. Asked at a Senate committee hearing in May how many people it would take before it was opened, Senator Evans said: "It depends on what other options you have." In October he said the "common view" was that the construction camp, which had a range of communal facilities and "a bit more of a community feel", was a "better alternative".

In a statement to be released today, the Immigration Department says: "The Government's policy is to open the new facility when numbers and separation arrangements required it." But it says no women, children, or families will live in the new centre, consistent with the Government's policy, which prohibits children from being locked up in detention. It costs taxpayers $32 million a year to accommodate up to 30 detainees at the new centre.

In August, refugee advocates who toured the new centre said it was "extremely harsh" with a "high-security, prison-like character". Amnesty International and seven other groups wrote to Senator Evans at the time, saying "the very expensive security systems of the facility are quite unnecessary". "The damage that has been done to people's mental and physical health by detaining them in remote, high-security detention centres such as this has been documented repeatedly," they said.


Quality medical care for the poor?

Registered nurses will be replaced by cheaper, less-qualified nurses and unqualified assistants, in the latest round of cost cutting by the State Government. The plan to substitute university-trained registered nurses with enrolled and trainee nurses contradicts a $1.2 million study commissioned by NSW Health last year, which found that increasing the proportion of less-qualified staff in hospitals caused a range of preventable complications and deaths.

Hospital managers have been ordered to save $32 million within four years by downgrading nursing cover at small and rural hospitals. The ratio of assistants-in-nursing will increase to 50 per cent of the combined registered and enrolled nurse numbers. Assistants-in-nursing have no minimum level of education and are not regulated by any nursing body. Some are students and others have a TAFE certificate in aged care. Since 1993, registered nurses have been university trained.

NSW Health says the cuts are justified because many hospitals are, in effect, working as aged-care facilities due to a shortage of nursing home places. But the lead author of the Glueing It Together study, Christine Duffield, said the plan flew "in the face of the evidence that shows the more RNs you have, the better the patient outcome". The three-year study used data from 27 NSW hospitals and found that a higher proportion of registered nurses produced lower rates of bed sores, intestinal bleeding, sepsis, shock, pulmonary failure, pneumonia and death of patients from a hospital-acquired complication. "In the mini-budget [the Government] said no frontline services will be cut, but nursing is a frontline service," said Professor Duffield, from the Centre for Health Services Management at the University of Technology, Sydney. "They're just doing it to save money."

Area health services have been identifying registered nurse positions that can be replaced since August, pre-empting the $32 million edict in the mini-budget last month. A leaked memo shows Greater Southern Area Health Service will turn 53 full-time equivalent registered nurse positions into enrolled nurse roles, each saving about $20,000 a year in salary, for a total of $800,000 by June. Karen Lenihan, the director of nursing and midwifery at Greater Southern, said most registered nurses would be lost through natural attrition, not redundancy. "It's not really about saving money; it's about being efficient."

But the president of the NSW Nurses Association, Brett Holmes, said the modelling used to devise the skill mix was "based on budget, not patient need". He had serious concerns about patient safety and nurses' workload. Less qualified nurses did not have the training to deal with critical emergencies and trauma, such as car accidents, he said. The Opposition health spokeswoman, Jillian Skinner, said the changes would put lives at risk.


Crooked Victorian cop walks free

I guess that a crooked Victorian cop no longer surprises anyone

A POLICEMAN who changed the statement of a sex assault victim to prevent her case going ahead has been handed a suspended sentence. Former Sen-Constable Bradley Michael Gleeson, 35, altered the statement, invented others and forged signatures on five cases he handled while working at Northcote and Moonee Ponds between 2005 and 2007. The County Court heard Gleeson was overworked and stressed when he selected the "problematic'' cases and put falsified statements of no complaint on the files.

This afternoon Judge Susan Pullen sentenced Gleeson to nine months jail, wholly suspended. She said it was clear Gleeson was more concerned about his own workload and reputation than he was about those who were making complaints. She said he had committed a gross breach of trust. "Your job was never to be that of judge and jury,'' Judge Pullen told him.

Prosecutor Daryl Brown told the court that the cases were for offences including indecent assault, criminal damage and theft. The court heard in the most serious case, a woman made accusations of sexual assault against a man in late 2003. Mr Brown said when Gleeson was handed the file he changed her statement to delete four allegations of improper behaviour and then forged the woman's signature. Gleeson then forged her signature again on a note claiming that she no longer wanted to pursue the case.

Mr Brown said nothing happened with the case for a year until another victim came forward and the file was reopened, uncovering Gleeson's crimes. Gleeson, of Abbotsford, pleaded guilty to five counts of misconduct in public office. Defence lawyer Peter Matthews said his client had been a respected and hard working officer who made a "horribly misguided effort'' to save time. Mr Matthews said following an assault in 2003 and a Christmas Day road fatality in 2004 Gleeson developed post traumatic stress disorder. "We are dealing with a man who appears to have two very different sides to him,'' he said. "Outwardly to his work colleagues at the time ... he appeared a capable officer. "The inward story is a very different one. This was a man who was emotionally and psychologically troubled.''

Gleeson was suspended from the force in August last year and resigned in October.


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